This month I decided to join the Daring Bakers in making something new and challenging each month. I was hoping it would take me out of my box a little, and BOY did it do just that!! Here's the challenge for this month:
Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna
The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.
Not only was this making lasagna from scratch, this was making the ragu sauce from scratch, a bechamel sauce from scratch AND the pasta from scratch! I worked on this for the good part of 7 hours! Fortunately the boys were pretty understanding and only one of them refused to eat it when it was finally done at 8 o'clock at night.
The ragu sauce was definitely my favorite part. It really reminded me of the sauces that were so easy to find in Italy. Much different from the American interpretation of "Italian food". This one started with carrot, celery, onion, pancetta and olive oil. Later you added Italian sausage, beef and proscuitto, wine, broth and then at the very end a couple tomatoes. VERY different from "ragu" from a jar... but oh so yummy!! I'll admit. I ate a few bites before it made it into the lasanga. The bechamel sauce turned out very well. I had never realized that the difference between real Italian lasagna and American lasagna was this sauce. No mozzerella, no ricotta... but bechamel and some parmesean. It took me back home to Italy. Above is the picture I've always wanted. The start of homemade pasta.
I think a couple of the hours I spent on this were on the pasta part alone. It's a spinach pasta. My arms hurt so bad when I was done. Can you imagine trying to turn this heap of crumbly dough into a sheet thin enough to see through?? After a long time and much frustration, the assembled product looked like this in my oven.
Honestly, I will probably never make all this again. I'd skip making the pasta myself and stick with the boxed stuff. The bechamel and ragu might be a special ocassion thing. I wish I could give you all a taste of this ragu. It took forever but I would do it again just for the flavor!
Phil is home now but wasn't when I made this, so he'll have to try the frozen morsel I saved for him some other time. Joshua and I liked this quite a bit. Jeremiah was a little more skeptical. All in all, my lesson learned is that it feels good to try making something new... especially when it's something you were pretty sure you'd never be able to pull off!